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December 16, 2023

Beautiful Fashion Designs by Jean Dessès in the 1950s

Born 1904 in Alexandria, Egypt, fashion designer Jean Dessès began working for Maison Jane, a Parisian couture house where, in 1937, he opened his own couture salon. His fashion was very popular with European royalty and movie stars. Among his clientele were the Queen and royal princesses of Greece, the Duchess of Windsor, Madame Jean (Lilia) Ralli, the first Mrs. Aristotle Onassis, Athina Livanos, and society hostess Elsa Maxwell.

Fashion designs by Jean Dessès in the 1950s

In 1962, Dessès designed the wedding gown worn by Princess Sophia of Greece (later Queen Sofia of Spain) for her marriage to the future King Juan Carlos I of Spain. Valentino worked with Dessès for several years in the 1950s and gained much hands-on experience, as did Guy Laroche who in the 1950s was Dessès’ assistant.

In 1963, at age 60, he retired to Greece because of poor health, where he ran a small boutique which he had opened eight years earlier. He died in Athens in 1970.

Jean Dessès was a world leading fashion designer in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. His designs reflected the influences of his travels, specializing in creating draped evening gowns in chiffon and mousseline, based on early Greek and Egyptian robes.

In the 1990s, his fashion designs saw a revival with the interest in vintage dresses. Naomi Campbell wore a vintage boned bodice and ruched silk Dessès gown in May 1999 at a Christie’s party. Later, in 2001, Renée Zellweger wore a lemon yellow strapless 1950s Dessès gown to the Academy Awards. Similarly, Jennifer Lopez wore a vintage moss green Dessès gown, made with 50 yards of chiffon, to the 2006 Academy Awards.

These beautiful photos captured portraits of classic beauties wearing fashion designs by Jean Dessès in the 1950s.

Jean Patchett in evening gown by Jean Dessès from his Spring collection, photo by Norman Parkinson, 1950

Anne Campion in fitted peplum jacket worn with full skirt in Scottish plaid by Jean Dessès, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1951

Eva Gerney in rose taffeta shantung dress that folds sharply to one side with uneven hem, worn under a flowing mantle trimmed in marten by Jean Dessès, photo by John Rawlings, Vogue, April 1, 1951

Model in black wool suit with peacock-blue vest of melusine (silky long-haired felt), hat is of same material, by Jean Dessès, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1951

Model in evening gown of white grosgrain apron banded in yellow tied in huge bow in back, over voluminous yellow and white tulle skirt, by Jean Dessès, photo by Georges Saad, 1951

Sophie Malgat in an artfully draped pale blue and red mousseline evening gown by Jean Dessès, Photo by Philippe Pottier, L'Officiel, 1951

Suzy Parker in enamel blue on black crêpe dress, the blue is built into the bodice then flows from the waist as free panel, by Mallinson from design by Jean Dessès, photo by Lillian Bassman, Harper's Bazaar, September 1951

Barbara Mullen in shimmering silk shantung coat, the top shingled with tucks designed by Jean Dessès for Bagedonow, photo by Karen Radkai, Harper's Bazaar U.S., February 1952

Bettina Graziani in furry wool redingote with cape-like shawl clasped over shoulders, fastened with whimsical half buttons, by Jean Dessès, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1952

Fiona Campbell-Walter is wearing Jean Dessès beautiful chiffon evening gown in these dramatic colors, photo by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, April 1952

Mary Jane Russell in romantic negligee of Avisco rayon and shantung by Jean Dessès for Raymodes, Vogue, February 1, 1952

Model in Cerulean EMBA mink stole by Fourrures Max, gown by Jean Dessès, ruby and diamond jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels, 1952

Victoria von Hagen in afternoon dress of bronze silk by Jean Dessès, crocodile bag by Ferest, photo by Philippe Pottier, L'Officiel, 1953

Ariane in rose wool suit, short jacket with rounded and curved collar is worn over a slightly flaring skirt, by Jean Dessès, photo by Georges Saad, 1954

Ghislaine de Boysson in strapless velvet and satin dress by Jean Dessès, photo by Georges Saad, 1954

Joan Olson in lilac organdy print evening dress with sheer organdy cape by Jean Dessès, bracelet by Vendôme, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Anne Gunning in yellow chiffon dress by Jean Dessès, photo by Mark Shaw, Paris, 1955

Jill Howard in lovely pink mousseline dance dress adorned with ribbons by Jean Dessès, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1956

Monique Chevalier in red organdy-silk ball gown, bodice and short capelet are red velvet by Jean Dessès, photo by Georges Saad, 1956

Model in lightweight wool suit by Jean Dessès, hat by Legroux, purse and gloves by Roger Model, photo by Guy Arsac, 1957

Simone d'Aillencourt in contrasting colors, the gray wool tunic is split and loosely ties over the red dress, by Jean Dessès, the veiled turban is by Claude St. Cyr, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1957

Denise Sarrault in honey-colored wool suit by Jean Dessès, photo by Georges Saad, 1958

Hélène Delrieu in a luxurious evening gown of white satin encrusted with crystal beading by Jean Dessès, jewelry by Francis de Winter, photo by Georges Saad, 1959 

Model in tri-color satin evening gown by Jean Dessès, photo by Sabine Weiss, 1959

Models in long and short versions of tiered taffeta evening dresses by Jean Dessès, photo by Philippe Pottie, 1959


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